George Edward Pickett
Born in Richmond, Va. On January 16,1825, Pickett graduated from West Point in l846,last in a class of 59. Among his several classmates who became generals were George B. McClellan and Thomas J. Jackson. In the war with Mexico Pickett was brevetted lieutenant and captain for his service in the Siege of Vera Cruz and during the subsequent advance on Mexico City. He served in Texas, Virginia, and Washington Territory until 1861, when he resigned his commission to enter the Confederate army.
First a colonel, then a brigadier general, as of 14 Jan. 1862, he served under Maj. Gen. James Longstreet during the Seven Days' Campaign and was wounded at Gaines' Mill. As a major general, 10 Oct. 1862, commanding a division, he was at Fredericksburg.
His name in Civil War history was secured in a losing cause, the charge against the Federal center on the third day at Gettysburg. Following bloody but inconclusive movements 1-2 July, Lee ordered the massive assault, which followed an intensive but basically ineffectual cannonade. Under Pickett's immediate command were the brigades of Brig. Gens. James L. Kemper, Richard B. Garnett, and Lewis A. Armistead. According to reports, Pickett was in excellent spirits and expected to carry the Union defenses. At mid-afternoon the forward movement began with the troops dressed as if on parade as they marched into the Federal guns. Pickett, as division commander, attempted to coordinate the ill-fated movement and, contrary to the view of some critics, acquitted himself bravely and well. But the task was impossible, and he ordered his men to withdraw when clearly they could not break the Union center.
Notwithstanding the bravery of his troops and his own efforts on the field, Pickett's military reputation was afterward in decline. He fought in battles at New Berne, Petersburg, and Five Forks. General R. E. Lee relieved him of his command after Sayler's Creek, only days before the final surrender at Appomattox. Following the war he was an insurance salesman in Richmond and died in Norfolk July 30, 1875.
Source: "Historical Times Encyclopedia Of The Civil War" Edited By Patricia L. Faust (with the exception provided below)
For many years I have seen various dates given for George Pickett's date of birth. Most of the data that I have, as did the original article above, uses January 28, 1825 as his date of birth. However, I received the following information from the "The Pickett Society."
According to the Rector's Register of Marriages, Burials and Christenings at St. John's Episcopal Church on Church Hill in Richmond, Virginia, George Edward Pickett was baptized on March 10, 1827 with his parents, Robert and Mary, giving the birth date of their son as January 16, 1825. The Pickett Society has a letter from the Virginia Historical Society that confirms these facts. The Virginia Historical Society actually holds the physical register from those times in their archives. Additionally, according to letters to and from George Pickett III, and George Pickett IV, they mention the birthday for "The General", as January 16, 1825 or just January 16th. So says family members Christiancy Pickett (great grandson to George Pickett and founder of The Pickett Society), Suzanne Pickett (great granddaughter to George Pickett and member of The Society) and William Peters Pickett (great grandson to Charles Pickett, George's brother, and Society Board member).
Since their documentation is a "primary source" and mine is not I have changed the birth date from January 28 to January 16.
Date page last updated: 03/30/12
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